ICANN: business should have more say in decisions
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has called for business to be given greater influence in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). As part of the public consultation process on the future of a private-led internet domain name organisation, the ICC's Internet, Telecommunications Infrastructure and Services working group has issued a position paper (PDF) recommending greater "involvement of representatives from all business sectors".
"The global business community is keenly interested in ICANN's continued evolution," said David Appasamy, Vice Chair of the ITIS Task Force and Chief Communications Officer for Sify Technologies of India. He stressed the importance of the stability of the domain name system. "ICC members are sharing their expertise with ICANN at this pivotal moment in its transition to an independent organisation with a global presence.” With these comments, the ICC has cautiously positioned itself on the side of those seeking a private sector-led domain name system independent of US government control.
In the ongoing controversy about the independence of ICANN, the US government recently stated that it did not see how ICANN could be fully privatised in its present form. Not only that, but the US government has stated publicly that it wants to retain control of the central administrative component, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is responsible for the management of the root zone.
The statement from the International Chamber of Commerce reflects the misgivings of the business community, particularly in the USA, about the current resistance towards moving the domain name system completely to the private sector. In recent years, the fear of a takeover by the United Nations has repeatedly raised its head. The ICC thinks that ICANN must develop security mechanisms during its transition to independence that will prevent the organisation being captured or dominated by individual governments or multilateral bureaucracies, once it has become independent.
The second clear demand contained in the ICC paper is that there should be no "internal capture of ICANN" that would lead to a set of interests dominating the DNS. This demand highlights the underlying conflict between the incumbent administration/registrars and external companies such as the large US telecommunications companies. The traditional large corporations have conservative views about expanding the influence of the DNS organisation. The registry/registrars, who feel that a few large concerns are attempting to block market expansion, have made every effort to restrict the influence of the brand owners in ICANN. Directors from companies like Google, Sify or IBM make up about half of the current ICANN board.
Other business associations, such as ETNO, the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association, have warned against a possible creeping takeover of ICANN and have called for measures to prevent this happening. ETNO has been much more forthright about moving ICANN away from US government control. Its view is that, ICANN can scarcely be considered to be an independent organisation if it lacks the authority to enter agreed changes in the root zone. ETNO does consider ICANN's US location to be written in stone. Historic arguments alone should not prevent relocation at some time in the future.